Automakers and dealers are mounting a full-court press against states that seek to adopt California's rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
New York, Oregon and Vermont are the targets of the latest industry lawsuits. More lawsuits may follow. At least nine states are likely to enact a version of the California regulations.
The centerpiece of the litigation is a year-old federal court lawsuit that pits automaker associations and some dealers against California officials. The state adopted landmark greenhouse gas rules in 2004.
The industry calls the California rules illegal and economically ruinous. Environmental activists say the industry should be figuring out how to comply with the rules instead of battling them in court.
The California rules take effect in 2006. Their provisions are scheduled to be phased in during the 2009-16 model years. The regulations mandate a 30 percent cut in emissions, primarily of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of burning fuel.
The fight is the biggest regulatory challenge for the industry in a generation. Although the precise legal arguments vary from state to state, the basic issue is the same.